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The value of volunteering

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

For two weeks this month, I volunteered with the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) - People Services department. I was asked to help out with the orientation for the volunteers and staff working in the virtual call centre to assist with the floods in Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. To give some scope to the nature of the floods, 12,000 people were evacuated from their homes at the end of April 2020.

This was the first time that the CRC used a virtual team approach, normally staff and volunteers would either go to the area, or close to it, and work out of an office. As we are still in self-isolation mode across Canada, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, this is not possible. So the CRC rose to the challenge of having a virtual support team. As you can imagine this is no easy feat. First of all, everyone needs access to all of the programs and systems to be functional (MS Teams, SharePoint, Citrix, etc.). This took me several days to get set up. Once I did, then I was asked to conduct the orientation session (via Zoom) for the new people who were coming on board on a daily basis. I managed to do it very successfully and without too many headaches. To say that it was easy would be lying, it wasn't easy but I was able to master it. I am now very comfortable using Zoom, and the various features of the program.

Overall, my experience was very worthwhile and I would encourage anyone who wants to learn new skills to consider volunteering with an organization like the Red Cross. They treat their volunteers extremely well and are very supportive. The skills that you will learn are easily transferable to the work environment, especially remotely. To explore volunteer opportunities have a look at this link to their website:

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